Century Marks

Century Marks

Outreach problem

Some questions that visitors to churches aren’t asking, but that churches are trying to answer anyway: How soon can I get involved with your committees? Will you please single me out in front of all the people during worship this morning? Will you please send some “callers” by my house and interrupt me while I fix dinner? Does this church have weekly meetings, rehearsals and other activities that will consume most of our family’s free time? I need more paperwork! Can you give me a folder filled with glossy pamphlets, old newsletters and denominational statements of belief? (Ministry Matters, August 13).

Keep hope alive

Jorge Mario Bergoglio, former archbishop of Buenos Aires and now Pope Francis, was accused during Argentina’s dirty war of not protecting leftist clergy, some of whom were killed by right-wing death squads. After that period, Bergoglio tripled the number of so-called slum priests, opened new chapels for them and paid to repair soccer fields in their neighborhoods. He visited them frequently, arriving alone on a bus. Recently, Pope Francis telephoned a drug rehabilitation center that was celebrating its fifth anniversary and left this message: “Don’t let them steal your hope” (Chicago Tribune, August 18).

Serendipity and the news

Cass R. Sunstein, former administrator of the White House Office of Informa­tion and Regulatory Affairs, says that newspapers have what he calls an architecture of serendipity. In newspapers, readers encounter content and become informed about subjects in which they have little interest. Sunstein worries about the future of the Washington Post, now that it has been purchased by Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon. Bezos is a master at discovering what people want and tailoring the market to their desires. If the same strategy is applied to newspapers, people might read only about subjects they already care about (Chicago Tribune, August 14).


Andrew Hill, who teaches at the U.S. Army War College, compiled a list of the “The Best Books You Will Never Read,” based on reader votes at Goodreads. Of his list of 30 titles, the top ten are: James Joyce, Ulysses; Marcel Proust, Remembrance of Things Past; David Foster Wallace, Infinite Jest; Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace; Thomas Pyn­chon, Gravity’s Rainbow; Jacques Der­rida, Of Grammatology; Jack Kerouac, On the Road; Herman Melville, Moby-Dick; Martin Heidegger, Being and Time; and William Faulkner, As I Lay Dying (Chicago Tribune, August 3).

Copts on the defensive

Since the military coup that deposed President Mohammed Morsi, Egyptian Christians have been on the defensive, particularly in the far south, where they are accused by Islamists of engineering the coup. In the city of Assiut, Christians have had their apartments marked with a red cross.  Christian entrepreneurs have shuttered their businesses. Forty percent of Assiut people are Christians (AP).